Meet the New-Look Play Magnus Team

Meet the new-look Play Magnus team

Alongside its majestic mountains, mystical fjords and … brown cheese, Norway boasts some of the world’s best young chess players.

These players are part of a new breed that is redefining the way the world thinks about chess. These guys wear hoodies, they trash talk and they make the game fun.

“I spend hours playing chess because I find it so much fun. The day it stops being fun is the day I give up.” - Magnus Carlsen

At Play Magnus, we are striving to bring chess to more people. To that end, we want to encourage anyone who is making chess fun, and we work hard to bring the element of play into everything we do. Our apps are designed to help you learn and play in a way that keeps you hooked, and you can win serious prize money in our Banter Blitz Cup tournament just by being entertaining.

These young players are now all part of the Play Magnus team. You can find out more about each of them below in Part One of our Meet the Players series.

Make sure you’re following their social accounts to get more behind-the-scenes info.

Meet the players

GM Magnus Carlsen

Born: Tønsberg, Norway
Grew up: Lommedalen, Norway
Current city: Oslo, Norway
Age: 28

Photo: David Llada

The man who needs no introduction. Magnus, born 30 November 1990, is the current World Chess Champion. He is also a two-time World Rapid Chess Champion and four-time World Blitz Chess Champion. Magnus first reached the top of the FIDE world rankings in 2010, and trails only Garry Kasparov at time spent as the highest rated player in the world. His peak classical rating of 2882 is the highest in history.

Like his teammate Jon Ludvig Hammer, Magnus is a fan of Fantasy Premier League, though he seems to fare better than Jon Ludvig in this arena, consistently placing in the top 0.1 percent of players.


Fun facts about Magnus:

  • Magnus lived in both Belgium and Finland as a kid.
  • When he was 12, his entire family went on a big adventure: Traveling through Europe while finding tournaments for Magnus to compete in.
  • Another team member, Sebastian Mihajlov, grew up close to Magnus' childhood home in Lommedalen.
  • Magnus' soccer team played in the same league as Jon Ludvig's soccer team when they were 15. History has forgotten the result of their individual match.

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WGM Olga Dolzykhova

Born: Lugansk, Ukraine
Grew up in: Kiev, Ukraine
Current city: Oslo, Norway
Age: 40


Olga is the Ukrainian mastermind behind the games in Magnus Trainer. She started training seriously chess at age 16 to get over the disappointment of failing her entrance exams to university. She ended up with a Master’s degree, a PhD in Education and a Woman Grand Master title in chess.

Olga is the author behind a series of chess books for children and organizes chess events all over Norway with Simen Agdestein. Olga is currently playing for the Norwegian OL team and is the leader of the popular youth chess club Dragulf USK.

Olga is crazy about dancing, and grabs any chance to take dance lessons in Oslo and on her travels. She loves shopping for dancing clothes and shoes.

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GM Jon Ludvig Hammer

Born: Bergen, Norway
Grew up in: Ullern, Oslo, Norway
Current city: Oslo, Norway
Age: 29


Jon Ludvig Nilssen Hammer, aka, ‘Hammer’ was born 2 June 1990. He is a Norwegian chess grandmaster and three-time Norwegian Chess Champion. He was the main second for Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship 2013. Hammer is a regular on chess24 Banter Blitz broadcasts, and has created his own instructional video series.

As a kid, Hammer competed in both soccer (highlight: winning the Øraker school recess championship with some amazing goalkeeping) and cross-country skiing (highlight: once he didn't finish last in a race) -- however, possessing a winner's mentality, and having the temperament to match it, finding a game with a consistent winning streak was important. Chess became the solution, and he spent much of his childhood winning, helped by the fact that Magnus was already competing with grandmasters at that stage.

He became a grandmaster at 18, beat the reigning world champion Magnus and got a 2700 rating at 25. These days he's trying to conquer new areas, spending a lot of time making one-man chess shows on Twitch. Finding his way in the gaming maze that is Twitch, he's also given the shooting game and world craze Fortnite a go, but currently the successes don't compare to his soccer highlight, not to mention the chess ones.

Jon Ludvig has made a name for himself in Norway as a chess commentator, putting a year and a half of journalism studies to good use -- although a degree remains uncompleted. He claims to have five different jobs and yet he's rarely awake before 10 in the mornings. In his spare time Hammer sometimes visits Oslo's chess pub, which is located 300 meters from his house. "A freak accident," he claims -- though the chess pub bartenders don't need a cue beyond his arrival to provide the favored drink: a glass of water with lime.

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GM Aryan Tari

Born: Stavanger, Norway
Grew up in: Stavanger, Norway
Current city: Oslo, Norway
Age: 20

Photo: David Llada

Aryan, born 4 June 1999, became Norwegian champion in 2015 and won the World Junior Chess Championship in 2017.

He started playing chess at the age of five and won the Junior section of the Norwegian Chess Championship just eight years later in 2012. He went on to win the 2015 Championship three years later, aged just 16. That made him the third youngest player to achieve this feat, after Simen Agdestein and Magnus Carlsen, who won at age 15.

Aryan was the second youngest Norwegian player at the time to ever to score a norm for the title of Grandmaster. He was awarded the title in March 2016, becoming Norway's 12th player to be awarded the title.

When he's not playing chess, Aryan likes to go for walks, go to the gym, watch tv series and spend time with friends.

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Keep an eye out for Part Two - coming soon!